The airspace over northern Europe, shut for five days following the volcanic ash that had collected there, opened partially on Tuesday.
In India, while some foreign carriers resumed flights to and from Europe, local airline companies were still waiting for clearance to fly. Jet Airways, which had announced a flight from Delhi to London at 4 p.m., cancelled it at the last minute.
Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France resumed flights from India to Europe and back. “All flights have been resumed,” a Lufthansa spokesperson said.
But there was a rider. passengers of two BA flights to London were told that if the flights couldn’t land there and were diverted, the airline wouldn’t be responsible for them.
“Just before we boarded the flight, airline staff told us we would have to manage on our own if the aircraft was diverted. We were allowed to board only after we accepted the conditions,” said Mumbai resident Balan Nair (72) who took the flight with her husband and daughter.
Experts said Indians travelling without an Schengen visa (which allows entry into all European Union countries) were taking the risk of being stranded at some European airport.
“Indications have been received that Heathrow Airport may get operational for limited hours from tonight, in which case, Air India will start Europe operations depending upon the availability of slots there,” a Ministry of Civil Aviation spokesperson said.
In all, 41,435 air passengers from India have been affected by the eruption from Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano, which rendered flying over most of Europe unsafe. Around 1100 Indians are said to be stranded in Britain, Canada and Germany because of the airline shutdown.
To spare foreign travellers stranded in India harassment, the government on Tuesday authorised immigration inspectors to extend visas for a maximum period of 14 days.
Eurocontrol said it expected 14,000 flights to take off in the previously shut European airspace area on Tuesday. NATS, UK’s air navigation services provider said restrictions would remain in place over the UK airspace below 20,000 feet.